Las Cruces, N.M. – After the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published the findings of their investigation of Governor Martinez’s Human Services Department (HSD) practice of changing food assistance applications to keep benefits from New Mexico’s most vulnerable residents, New Mexico State Representatives Jeff Steinborn and Bill McCamley released the following statements.
In court this week, the OIG reported that their investigation was incomplete, because the adminstration’s offense was “more egregious” than originally expected—forshadowing much deeper sytemic misconduct on the part of Governor Martinez’s HSD.
“This is another devastating example of Governor Martinez and the Republican leadership prioritizing big business welfare over our families, workers, and policies that move New Mexico forward. Sadly, this has only deepened the poverty and hunger that too many New Mexicans struggle with” said Representative Steinborn.
McCamley, New Mexico House District 33 Representative said,”The OIG investigation, though not complete, disturbingly shows that far too many New Mexicans, including a portion of the more than 2,000 households in my district are, on a routine basis, being unjustly denied food assistance. SNAP benefits are sometimes the only thing providing food to children. When they cannot get the calories they need, not only is a hungry child a tragedy individually, but this hurts their ability to learn at school and this unfairly sabotage’s their future and is therefore something that must be fixed.”
In April, employees at Human Services Department came forward to reveal that they were pressured to change income claims on SNAP applications that would have otherwise qualified for expedited processing. As a result, New Mexico families in dire need did not receive benefits in a timely manner as required.
Since then, Democrats have called for accountability in all levels of government, including New Mexico’s complete congressional delegation. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), State Auditor Tim Keller, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched investigations; conclusions from the State Auditor’s office and USDA are still forthcoming.
The pattern of eliminating services for New Mexico’s most vulnerable residents started in 2013 when Governor Martinez’s administration falsely accused 15 New Mexico’s behavioral health care providers of fraud, causing many of those providers to close their doors, putting more than 1,600 people out of work, and ultimately eliminating crucial services.